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17. History of technology and technology policy

Politics and modern science and technology
Technology policy for development

Politics and modern science and technology

Although Japan has achieved technological self-reliance, it is not playing the lead role in all areas of technological development, and there should be no reason to expect that it should. It is sufficient for Japan to have appropriate areas in which it may contribute to the rest of the world, and any attempt to monopolize the potentials of development in technology would be dangerous. Especially in view of the military potential of the most advanced sciences and technologies, it is important that each country have some share in global science and technology activities, with no one country dominating.

To this end, establishing a world-wide science and technology information network would make an important contribution.

The institutionalization of science and technology has been occurring since World War I, and both in developed and in developing countries, government expenditures to promote science and technology have grown tremendously. In Japan, however, government involvement and investment have been extremely small, the leading role in research and development having been played by private enterprises. In other words, individual enterprises own the most advanced technologies. This is one reason why Japanese R. & D. has often been expressed as "r. & D."

There is the opinion that Japan won the competition for quality control but not for technology innovation. This reflects the difference between countries that have been engaged in developing science and technology mainly for military purposes - for which only high efficiency and quality have been sought and the possible general national economic benefits of them disregarded - and Japan, which has specialized in applying the theoretical achievements of modern science and technology for improving people's lives-in other words, for commercial purposes. It is totally unreasonable to have people dying from starvation in an age when man can go to the moon. Everyone should be assured of the right to oppose the development of science and technology that has been inseparably connected with such political insanity.

The utilization of the most advanced technology for people's day-to-day living should be developed more positively in each country. Bolder experiments (with certain conditions) should be attempted in developing countries.

However, because industrialization and the development of science and technology involve the principle of private economy, they tend to be accompanied by such negative consequences as those discussed in the section on environmental pollution. Consideration for human dignity and human rights by scientists, engineers, and industrialists must be constantly promoted. As one scientist has described it, it is easy to understand that the most advanced areas related to military technology are the areas containing the most attractive challenges for scientists and engineers. It is most unpleasant, however, to see them exchanging, as an equal trade, the existence of mankind for personal gain.

In this regard, the charter promulgated by the Science Council of Japan in 1980 is extremely promising. The council declared three principles for atomic energy research: the research should be autonomous, democratic, and freely accessible to all.

The charter declares that "science must aim only at enriching the lives of mankind," and "in order to ensure the sound development of science and to promote its useful application," scientists must:

1. be conscious of the meaning and aim of their research and contribute to the welfare of mankind and world peace;

2. defend the freedom of learning and respect originality in research;

3. promote the harmonious development of all scientific fields and encourage the diffusion of the spirit and knowledge of science;

4. be alert to the abuse of science and make efforts to prevent it;

5. respect the international validity of science and promote scientific ex change around the world.

This welcome declaration was an achievement encouraged by recommendations of the Occupation forces intended to fundamentally reform the Japanese system of research and education after 1947 (Yuasa 1984). Just as the Japanese could not prosecute the war criminals on their own initiative, the internal circumstances of latecomer Japan were such that, unless there was pressure from the outside, it was difficult for people to gain the opportunity for change. What is to be noted is that inherent elements had matured so that Japan could respond to pressure from the outside. Under the Meiji state, the potential for reform in the worlds of science and technology had been limited.

Since the Tokugawa shogunate, two historical veins had intersected in Japan, distinguished according to how the idea of "Japanese spirit and Western technology" was used. In one, the idea was used to represent progress, while in the other, it was used to disparage Western technology as merely a tool borne of a culturally and spiritually impoverished world, and, at the same time, to promote a reactionary, exclusive nationalism.

Even as long ago as the ninth century, when Japan was actively importing Chinese culture and technology, there were those in Japan advocating "Chinese technology, Japanese spirit" (Yuasa 1984).

And again, 350 years after the introduction of the gun (1543) and of Christianity (1549) into Japan, the current slogan was "Japanese spirit and Western technology" (Yuasa 1984).

The defeat of China in the Opium War was a serious shock not only to scholars of Western learning but to everyone, leading to the publication of such arguments for coastal defence as Kaikoku shidan, a work by Hayashi Shibei. The defeat of China also triggered a shift in the Japanese scholarly community away from the Chinese model, as represented by the T'ien-kung k'ai-wu, a seventeenth-century encyclopaedia of technological science by Sung Ying-hsing, to Western science and technology.82

In the early nineteenth century, "Japanese spirit and Western technology" had a progressive meaning that continued until early Meiji. However, with the establishment and stabilization of Meiji state power, the nature of the idea began to change, and an abusive manipulation of technology began. The tendency was most marked among military officers and conservative politicians, and there was little public resistance.

According to Yuasa (1984), it was some 50 years before anyone appeared to object publicly and persuasively to the contempt of science and technology that "Japanese spirit and Western technology" was being made to represent.

In 1915, Tanakadate Aikitsu (a science professor at the University of Tokyo) gave an address to the House of Peers (which was led by ultra-nationalists and Shintoists) under the little, "The State of Aircraft Research and Development," in which he campaigned for the establishment of an institute of aviation:

In my understanding, you regard Western civilization as a materialistic. mechanical civilization, a physical civilization devoid of spiritual aspects. You maintain that the Oriental civilization, on the contrary. is metaphysical and spiritual, and that humanity, justice, loyalty, and filial piety are the specialties of the Orient, and your concern is how to harmonize these two currents. However, my question is whether or not we can define Eastern and Western civilizations in such a simple way.... l doubt if Western civilization has been established on such a shallow foundation.

Adducing the heliocentric theory of Galileo, he continues:

Once he had concluded that the earth revolves around the sun, he resolutely maintained his conviction.... Such an attitude cannot be taken to be from intentions to make money, attain fame, or the like. Perhaps this is the mind that lodges behind what is called the materialistic Western civilization. It seems to me that there are many living Galileos and Newtons in contemporary Europe and America, and they are cultivating the source of civilization.83

In this, we can recognize, beyond the digressions peculiar to Japan, the establishment of modern scientific thought with a universal nature. Nonetheless, this kind of thinking was not victorious over the transformed notion of "Japanese spirit and Western technology." Those who supported the military fascist regime, which was interested in Western science and technology only as a means, were aware, on the one hand, that the outcome of any modern war was a matter of scientific and technological potential, but, on the other, as a serious contradiction, rejected the "ideas" inherent in modern science and technology, thus finally leading to self-collapse.

Unfortunately, there was a revival of the pre-war notion of "Japanese spirit and Western technology": the new version held that Japan's loss in World War II was a defeat of its scientific and technological capabilities. Post-war reconstruction of Japan was therefore to be aimed at Japan becoming a great power through development of its science and technology.

The conflict here is an antagonism between the nature of politics and the philosophy of science and technology. The relationship between science and politics has reached a critical point in the present age. Tanakadate cited Newton and Galileo, who lived in a time when science was not yet institutionalized, was politically independent. The moral difficulty of scientists in more recent times was well represented by Einstein. As a result of the institutionalization of science, however, modern scientists now constitute a part of the power élite, and one would be hard put to find an Einstein among the agro-chemists who developed Agent Orange or the economists who discuss the kill ratio of a particular weapon and their like.

These people are unaware that they are "fierce animals" bred as specialists of knowledge and technology within the state system of the United States. They are 'specialists without spirit and sensualists without heart." The contemporary age is one of a gigantic institutionalized science. An analogy may be drawn from the mafia chieftain who is also a devout church-goer, activities that in his consciousness are non-contradictory. This unconscious schizophrenia has debilitated modern scientists and engineers.

There have been criticisms and warnings from the scientific community against the induction of top scientists into the bureaucratic power structure, and therefore I need not take the matter up here. Among Japanese scholars, Hiroshige Toru and Nakayama Shigeru have published excellent works.84

In this regard, we can be sympathetic to the warnings and hostilities of the participants in our dialogues concerning specialists in science and technology, although their criticisms are stereotyped and lack concreteness. The privileges and influences of the élite in science and technology are as great in developing countries, in which the absolute number of scientists and engineers is small, as in the superpowers. In such circumstances, there is no other body of scientists in these countries that could act as a counterbalance, a check to those who become a part of the power élite. What is worse, those élites continue in office even after changes in government.

Technology policy for development

Nakaoka (1986), in tracing the history of modern technology in Japan, points out the surprising similarities to development in the West. Indeed, while

Japanese technological development has been unique, it constitutes a part of a worldwide trend in technology development, and therefore no country need follow rigidly the particular developmental pattern of any one country; rather, each should choose the one most suited to its special needs and conditions.

Focusing on the Japanese iron-manufacturing and cotton-spinning technologies, Nakaoka concentrated on management, labour, supporting technologies, and related services. He examined Japan's lag in comparison with the development stage of iron-manufacturing technology in the West when Japan started and how it caught up with the West. He emphasizes that the existing large stock of skills and accumulated technology in Japanese traditional iron-manufacturing was of critical importance, in spite of the fact that the scale of production was small and equipment was primitive.

At Kamaishi Ironworks, for example, a shortage of charcoal forced the plant to switch to coke for fuel. The attempt to manufacture coke failed, however, due to an incomplete understanding of the manufacturing process, and it was not until management was privatized that success came: the scale of operations was reduced to balance the supply of fuel with demand, and the links with transportation and other services were rationalized.

Nakaoka emphasizes the critical role played by the establishment and adjustment of linkages with such peripheral factors as fuel, power source, and transportation problems in determining success or failure. He also observes that the time required for each stage of development in the West was considerably shortened in Japan (a total of 400 years versus about 50), "as if the Buddle blast-furnace had actually been skipped over."

Nakaoka also examined the history of the modern development - after passing through the three stages of its early development - of the textile industry, which confirmed the importance of related technology and supporting services. He also traced two significant transformations: (1) from management by administrators to management by business professionals and the formation of skilled labour and (2) from the employment of farm labour, which is completely unaccustomed to the systematized, regulated working conditions of a factory, to the employment of factory workers.

Nakaoka stresses the significance of fringe technologies in spinning as the crucial elements leading to Japan's industrialization success. The technology for manufacturing wooden machines, for example, was developed by the makers of looms and water-wheels, who had high-level engineering skills. Native technology was joined with imported Western technology to form an intermediary, or hybrid, technology. The mechanical systems, key parts, and energy sources were Western, and they were combined with native Japanese parts etc., to create the necessary linkages and stages in the production process. Toyoda Sakichi, for example, invented the automatic loom using imported cast-iron parts for the key components, while the rest was constructed of wood. Toyoda was able to duplicate the metal English loom by cleverly combining local materials and know-how with those from the West.

Ishii (1986) makes reference to a kind of technological linkage in which a new technology does not replace traditional technology; rather, what is fostered is a coexistence of mutual prosperity through the realization of a supplementary relation whereby, taking cloth-making as an example, the spinning is done by labourers at the factory, while the weaving is done by part-time workers at home. In this example, the most difficult and labour-consuming processes were performed by modern machines in the factory, while the weaving process could be done at home in the traditional manner because the Japanese market demand was for narrow cloth, suitable for use in the making of the traditional kimono. Western weaving machines were capable only of producing broadcloth, and so they were installed in the factories for weaving cloth to be used for military uniforms and cloth for export to other Asian countries.

Incidentally, the development of cotton spinning placed cotton ahead of linen among textile materials. In the present age of chemical fibres, on the other hand, goods made of cotton or linen have come to be considered luxury items.

Regarding technology policy, Uchida (1986) examines the history of technological policies from 1825 to 1935, dividing it into four periods. He described the characteristics of each as follows.

The first is the period up to the Meiji Restoration (1825-1868), when the prototype of the Meiji government's technology policy was to be found in the policy of the Tokugawa shogunate and other feudal clans. This was also the time when absolute government control over technology and information was crumbling as a result of both internal and international events. The promotion of industry by feudal clans as a financial policy to increase cash revenue would form the basis for the new government's central policy of industrial promotion on a national scale. Since the establishment of the Tokugawa shogunate, the samurai class was evolving from one made up of warriors to one of administrative bureaucrats, which aided the government in its formation of an administrative apparatus and the development of needed economic and technological policies.

The second period (1868-1885) was characterized by impetuous Westernization represented by model factories under direct government operation in which not only were the equipment and machines imported but the engineers and foremen were also brought over from abroad to provide operational guidance. In 1873, the number of such foreigners totaled 239 (from 1875, the total number began to decrease). In this period, however, the government had no comprehensive technological programme or technology policy. Opinions were divided among leading politicians, and each government office was engaged in its own programme of technology importation and personnel training, with no integration at the level of the central government.

In the third period (1885-1910), there was an important policy change: for the first time bureaucratic management of state-run factories gave way to private management, as a direct result of accumulated debts and fiscal difficulties of the central government. The change of policy was accompanied by a movement of personnel from government enterprises to the private sector, which provided an opportunity for a broad dissemination of technology. On the other hand, in such areas as railways, meteorology, and communications, which were kept under government control, each ministry established its own school to train and secure human resources. Laboratories, research institutes, and experiment stations were established for agriculture, industry, and fishery technology in this period.

The technology policies of the army and the navy were characterized by a strong inclination for weapons independence (home production, uniformity, and standardization). This goal was attained by the beginning of the 1910s (though later for the navy, because of the nature of its weapons).

Self-reliance in technology was achieved mid way through the fourth period (1910-1935). At this time, the minimal linkages among technologies had been established on a national scale and a new stage of development then began. Though in the past military technology and science had been strictly in the hands of the government, in this period, further technological development required the participation of the private sector. The military's policies aimed at Japan becoming a superpower corresponded with the government's goal of making the country a first-class industrial nation.

In this (last) period of tremendous development of the heavy and chemical industries, the machine and chemical industries. under the momentum provided by World War I, were able to substitute their own products for imports, thus bringing to a halt their costly purchases of many goods from abroad. Also in this period, newly-risen Konzern formed big business groups with the technologies of the heavy industries as their central pillars. One such group was the Institute of Physical and Chemical Research, which was transformed and enlarged from the Institute of Basic Science Research, established with government assistance in 1916.

Uchida concludes that it was only with the establishment of a technology agency in 1942 that technology became an independent item in Japan's total national policy.


Concerning post-war science and technology policy, the establishment in 1959 of the Science and Technology Council was significant. Its members include the prime minister (chairman); minister of finance; minister of education; director-general of the Economic Planning Agency; director-general of the Science and Technology Agency; chairman of the Science Council of Japan; and three others appointed by the prime minister. This represented an unprecedentedly powerful system for the administration of science and technology. Prior to the establishment of this council, the Science and Technology Agency (established in May 1956) had been active in carrying out the administration of science and technology, aiming at the promotion of science and technology to contribute to the development of the national economy.

According to Yuasa (1984), the two 10-year programmes established by the Science and Technology Council, that is, (1) the "Basic Measures for the Promotion of Science and Technology Aiming at Ten Years Hence," of 1960, and (2) the 1977 "Science and Technology Policy in the Age of Limited Resources - A Basic Ten-Year Programme," were extremely significant. Though monotonous and long, the government documents describing the programmes provide us with a good picture of the problems Japan faced.

The response by the Science Council of Japan to the 1977 proposal was summarized as "Science and Technology at the Turning Point" (1978) This and the "Scientists' Charter," published by the Science Council of Japan in 1980, make a pair. It is noteworthy that in the charter, Unesco's "Recommendation on the Status of Scientists" was interpreted as both a "charter of rights" and an "ethical code."85

In a study, "The Historical Development of Science and Technology," conducted by the Policy Research Group and chaired by Sassa Manabu, the call was made for a new, holonic and flexible path of scientific and technological development in view of the observation that there was a trend toward overspecialization (atomism) in science and, at the same time, the creation of Big Science.86

18. Female labour and technology change

Total household labour and the "wife's domain"
Technological change and female labour

Total household labour and the "wife's domain"

Household labour is the main form of labour in societies based on agricultural production, but the household in Japan was not necessarily a unit based on blood ties. Depending on the scale and type of production, outsiders were incorporated into the household to complete a single production unit, and all members, regardless of age or sex, were expected to work together. Thus, even the heaviest labour was performed by both men and women. What sexual divisions there were resulted from the women undertaking tasks that men were unwilling to perform. Female labour was indispensably important, not only in the preparation of meals but in the production, care, and storage of foodstuffs and clothing and in social activities centred on festivals, weddings, funerals, and similar events. Child rearing was not counted as work.

Thus, the situation in the traditional, non-farming Japanese household, in which production and social relations are the male domain and housework and child rearing the female, was not the norm in farm households. Yanagita Kunio (1875-1962), the father of Japanese ethnology, stated that the peasantry had to have more than 100 different skills to be able to provide the variety of high-quality necessities that formed the basis of a self-sufficient life-style. And these skills had to operate within the limits set by nature, beyond any human control. Besides the basic handling of crops, tasks needing to be done included the making of fuel, fertilizer, sacks, and rope; house repairs; and jobs essential to the basic functioning of the community, such as road repairs and maintenance and supervision of temples and shrines. The peasant was thus not only an expert agriculturist, he (or she) was also at times blacksmith, carpenter, stonemason, earth mover, hydraulic engineer, veterinarian, hunter, woodcutter, and weaver. Ideally, the peasant household had at all times someone able to function in one or more of these capacities.

Because the size of the household has shrunk over the past century' one peasant household after another has fallen into ruin, unable to keep enough members to maintain their existence. During the same time, new and smaller households have appeared, family units whose existence has depended on the multiple efforts of the wife.

An increase in the number of family members had been thought desirable in principle to enhance the labour force, but the bitter experience of many families was that too many children were "more a burden for the present than a help for the future."87

A new problem, requiring a new solution and a new setting for its solution, arose as the limits of agricultural production were reached amidst an unhealthy environment of high birth rates and high death rates. The new, smaller families could not hope to find a solution to their predicament either in the village or in agriculture. From the beginning of Meiji, surplus labour left the villages, and the basic production unit - all family members working together - was transplanted to the towns. A large family in the countryside was thought to be proof of surplus wealth, just as a small family meant poverty. In both extremes, all household members had to work extremely hard, and whether families remained in the countryside or not, all were defined by the need for all to work together to keep the household viable. This was the Japanese household when the Japanese economy was beginning to take off.

Yokoyama Gennosuke, author of Nihon no kaső shakai, a report on labour conditions at the end of the last century, points out that, in a survey of 1,615 Tokyo establishments employing 50 or more workers, 111,913 were men and 184,839 women (for a total of 296,752).88 Even if we take for granted that women workers would outnumber men in such light-industry factories as those producing raw silk, tea, and matches, not to mention the weaving and spinning factories - this was after all an age of light industry - Yokoyama also looked ahead, to an age when "we will have to depend on the machine for production and women will increase in even greater numbers among the work-force."89 He pointed to the decrease in the numbers of male workers in lantern, spinning, and camphor factories.

Further, "even in such industries as mining and iron and steel production, where one would not expect to see women working, one in fact encounters quite a few," Yokoyama noted, recording that more than 300 females worked daily at the Tokyo Arsenal.90" He explained, however, that most of these women were family members of other arsenal workers.

The need to make ends meet compelled entire families into the factories. "In Japan, only glass, shoemaking, and metal-working factories relied on skilled labour"; the day would come when "we rely entirely on machines," and, consequently, the number of women workers will increase.91

P. H. Douglas (1902- ), using wage data, proved that the size of the household budget determined the amount of outside labour a household would supply. In Japan, Arisawa Hiromi provided a similar analysis.92

According to Douglas and Arisawa: (1) the lower the income of the head of the household, the greater the chance that family members will work out side the household; (2) when the income of the head of the household is stable, the chances of other family members working outside increase with better pay; (3) the household head will seek work without regard to the level of wages. This theory, based on the premise of female labour supporting the household income, is persuasive and widely applicable.

If we combine this theory with Yokoyama's observations, we find that the appearance of female and child labour in the market-place was due to changes not only in technology but also in the household economy. Examining Japan's experience, one is better able to understand why European skilled workers made such a negative response to technological change and why labour unions and left-wing political parties opposed the participation of women.93 The response to the crisis of the traditional view of the family and the household economy was negative. In Japan, however, the response to the capitalist transformation of technology was made by entire households based on the co-operative, whole-family labour practice characteristic of the peasant economy, perhaps befitting the nation's status as a late industrializer. And this situation has not changed much today. Of families in the 1980s depending on wage labour for their livelihood, "more than half have both husband and wife working, in one form or another. . . with wives of low-income earners especially liable to be working and contributing a sizable portion of the household income."94

Times have changed since Yokoyama made his observations. The standard of living and consumption have risen to an entirely new level, but wages have risen only after prices, often after a great time lag. Following the oil shock of the early 1970s, stagnation has affected real disposable income. This represents a modified application of the second part of the Douglas-Arisawa theory: female labour has increased, principally as part-time labour, which implies an increase in low-paid work.

Whereas before the oil shock renovation in technology brought women into the market-place to fill a labour shortage - and, in the case of married women, to defend their own household budgets against inflation - after the oil shock, companies selected part-time female labour as a cost-saving alternative. This has been made possible by the technological streamlining effected in factories (FA, or factory automation) and in offices ((OA, office automation).

To understand the place of female labour in Japanese society, it is necessary to look at the wife's position within the household economy. The male head of the household in Japan does have ultimate responsibility for fiscal management (if there are finances to manage), but, traditionally, and this holds true today, the budget and the actual running of the household are the responsibility of the wife, who receives all monies brought home by her husband. After consultation with his wife, the head of the household receives an allowance from that income. It is rare for the husband to interfere in her management of the family budget, which, incidentally, partly accounts for the fact that the nation's leading economists are ignorant of everyday prices in the market-place.

It is true that a trend among young working couples is for both partners to manage the budget, but these people are still in a distinct minority. The wife's control over the family budget has no relation to the size of the income, but where all must work to maintain the economic viability of the household, her authority increases dramatically. Her responsibilities then expand to include not just all the housework, even though she is no longer a pure housewife, but also to the earning of a portion of the household income through labour in the market-place.

The biggest driving force behind supplementary family income is the cost of housing, especially of home ownership; the "new poverty" exists in housing. Because of the high cost and limited availability of housing in Tokyo, most commuters must spend an average of 90 minutes travailing each way between home and job, and even then they cannot afford a house with a garden.

The next greatest demand on the family budget forcing wives to work is the cost of children's education. Through the past century of political, social, and economic upheavals - continuing in the present drastic technological revolution - what has proved to be of most lasting value is the knowledge, qualifications, and skills acquired through education. Thus there is a high regard and high expectations for education. For the middle class, into which the majority of the Japanese fall, an educated citizenry with income but no wealth, to survive in an urbanized, industrialized, highly technological information society, families can pass on but one thing to their children and grandchildren: education.

Still following the Douglas-Arisawa theory, an increase in the income of the head of the household results in the belated entrance of his children into the labour market, after a period devoted to education. The serious burden the housing problem imposes on the family budget makes it unavoidable that the wife also enters the labour market.

I thus speak of the survival, even the thriving, of the "wife's domain," even though there is no legal basis for this authority. For the Japanese, this acknowledgement of the special role and domain of the wife is an ethic that functions subconsciously within everyday life, a natural part of that life. For this reason, especially in a large household with two or three generations sharing a rural domicile, it is usually thought natural for a bride to spend long periods of unpaid labour learning work and management skills, even under what may seem to be unbearable work conditions, to support the family. In this capacity, the bride is functioning as a candidate to be the mate of the head of the household, her husband's acceptance depending in part on her performance

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